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Pre-Pesach Tips 2022

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In this episode, I go solo and discuss tips and ideas around this busy season of the Pesach holiday.

I had high hopes for this podcast putting it out right before Pesach, it’s Tuesday today and Pesach starts Friday night, so it’s very very close. I don’t know about you but in the months and weeks leading up to Pesach, there’s a lot of anxiety around it. There is so much to do in order to have a nice Yom Tov and there is definitely a cultural expectation around Pesach that has happened that isn’t necessarily necessary. So there definitely is a lot of stress that can come up for us.

So, I’m recording this podcast to give you some tools that have helped me and I have used on myself in the past and that I have used with clients.

These tools are helpful when you are going into any stressful time that has to do with food and potential triggers around food. This is not to say that I don’t love Pesach. I think it’s a beautiful holiday and what it represents for all of us Jews who left Egypt and also the concept of getting rid of the chometz that represents the yetzer hara in our lives. Although I think the whole concept is very beautiful for me it doesn’t work to totally negate the hard parts of Pesach.

I think a lot of this work is staring at the hard parts in the face and categorizing them. This will be hard for me this year or this has worked for me in the past. Or I still don’t know how to navigate this but I’m doing the best I can, whether discussing it with your therapist, sibling, parent, or journaling about it.

I just had this conversation with a client before I recorded this. There are some things that we can control and some things that we can’t control and it doesn’t make sense to obsessively worry about the things we can’t control.

But then there’s the grey area, where we might have control. Sometimes anticipating and thinking about potential things that can go right or wrong and where we could put our energy into planning accordingly.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that my phone is completely broken now.

I woke up one morning to my husband’s alarm clock and somehow, I grabbed my phone, dropped it and it cracked and broke. This happened around a week ago and I had a lot of ideas of what to put out before Pesach.  I can’t get Instagram to work properly on my computer and my intern is also having trouble with Instagram on her phone, so I guess it’s just not meant to be!

I also had plans to record an episode with a friend who will hopefully still come on the podcast and talk about her eating disorder and her trauma around Pesach. I thought it would be helpful to have a live counseling session and the same way I would be counseling her you could use it on yourself.

I hope you’r aware that a big part of the podcast, is that although you might not work with me one on one because you might not have the energy, time, or capacity to. By listening to me do it on other people on the podcast you can develop some of the tools to use it for yourself.

Around a week ago I posted something on Instagram about the potential triggers of Pesach around food-related and non-food-related things.

So, I have a list here about different tools to help you get through this busy time. I know it’s Tuesday, but I encourage you to do what we will discuss and either write it down or think about it.

Let’s talk about the practical parts of Pesach-the cleaning and cooking.

First having to clean your entire house of all the chametz. I think rule #1 is to figure out what is Halacha and what’s not because we have definitely taken it to another level of OCD around cleaning for Pesach.

And then there’s the cooking.

This year I’m very lucky that I’m not making Pesach, so we’re really not cooking and cleaning as much. However, we have made Pesach for the last three years.

The first year I made Pesach it was 6 months after my mother died suddenly and I decided to make Pesach for everyone.

I am 1 of 9 and at the time it made sense because we had just bought our house so we had the biggest space. I was very determined to make it work that we would all be together that year. But it was very hard. It was hard to have so many people in my new house. It’s hard not to have my mother alive that’s probably the hardest part. It was hard to clean the whole house and then cook for so many people. At the end of Pesach, I had pneumonia. I was so sick; I definitely did not listen to my inner cues of self-care. I tried to but I didn’t.

I am very good at anticipating when people will be hungry, so I really overdid it. I made a lot of chicken and potatoes for before Pesach when you can’t eat chometz or matza. My freezer was stuffed with tins. I also baked, since I don’t like store-bought baked goods. My sister who was single than and living with us, did help a lot. But when you are the hostess, you see a different side. Of course, over Pesach, everyone helped out, but when you’re the hostess the brunt of it falls on you. I definitely learned that the hard way!

The next year, I decided I am not making Pesach, and were going to Israel.

My husband booked the tickets for 3 weeks. After we booked, we were like what were we thinking, we don’t even have 3 weeks off. It was one of those crazy things. I was like I don’t have a mother, I’m going to Israel, and I’m going to have the best time. I guess I was running away from my problems. We took care of the passports and everything and then you all know what happened in 2020-Corona!

Our flights were canceled, and it was devastating. It was so so hard. I was depressed about it and it took me time to get over it. So, it was just us over Pesach, but it had its own beauty. Definitely a more relaxing Yom Tov. We didn’t have to worry about clothes, which gives us a lot of perspective on how much we obsess about how we look and how our kids look.

Last year, we made Pesach again because my husband likes being home for the Sedarim,

He really enjoys leading the Sedarim. First days we hosted one of my siblings and second days we went to my in-laws.

This year my husband’s brother and sister-in-law who made Aliyah came in. So we want to spend as much time as we can with them. So were going to Teaneck first days and second days we will be in Rochester with my father. Which comes with its own set of challenges.

I recently had a friend tell me that I am so good at showing up on the podcast vulnerably but not oversharing. A good balance. Of course, there are so many dynamics that come up with each family, myself included and I don’t need to share that on the podcast. But I want to validate that experience for you. Every single family has a dynamic, some harder, some easier, and there’s really no way to measure that. Needless to say, most people have dynamics that come up that are challenging and some of us have better coping skills, and some of us are closer with our families.

I happen to be very close with both my family and my husband’s family so I’m excited to go but it comes with its own set of challenges. Not being in your own space or having your own stuff and of course, the food component of it being Pesach and there’s already food that you’re not used to eating.

So that’s general getting ready for Pesach.

Another thing that comes up for a lot of people is the amount of food and the weirdness of the time that you are eating.

You could not eat until 1 pm and then again at 10 pm. So, goal #1 is that you have to eat every 2-3 hours, whether you are being served or not. That’s part of being an adult and on this intuitive eating journey, even if there’s no food being served, you still have to eat. And your kids also still have to eat! So, you could make a goal around that. What do I want to eat every 2-3 hours? Some people will be ok with eating bissili and then 3 hours later biscotti. I know I wouldn’t feel good after that, I wouldn’t be full or satisfied. So I would really have to think about that-do I want to make sure I’ll have yogurt on hand or avocado for a salad or proteins.

It’s also important to realize that certain things that come up for Pesach are a privilege to be able to deal with them. Not everyone has the financial capacity to deal with things that come up.

I am totally validating that experience and I think it’s important to address that Pesach is really expensive. Of course, Hashem is in control and will give us the money to make Pesach, but there are things that need to be bought and things that don’t need to be bought.

I also spoke about this on my Instagram. Getting new clothes for Yom Tov for myself or my kids brings a lot of stress.

First of all, I don’t like shopping at all, I’m not such a great shopper, and I don’t like to spend money. Like some people said, just because it’s Pesach doesn’t mean you need to buy your kids new clothes. Some people will be horrified to hear that. I totally hear that. Yes, they still have clothes that fit and are wearable. We should be buying the clothes when they’re on sale or needed. So that’s an interesting thought to think about.

Make goals around making sure your eating enough and having convenient foods around that are kosher for Pesach.

Yes, that does probably mean more fruits, vegetables, and proteins, which is really hard. Go to the store and make sure you have food that you enjoy, not just your kids or the people your hosting. What about you? You need to make sure that you have food that feels good in your body.

If matzah is something that hurts your stomach and makes you feel constipated or bloated, you don’t have to eat it every meal. If you want it great. Whole wheat may help you because of the fiber but it may not if you don’t drink enough water, you will be constipated. Make sure your drinking enough and you have all the foods that you enjoy around you.

There is what to be said about the beauty of Pesach food just being food without added ingredients, that could taste really good.

My in-laws were here this past Shabbos, we were talking about how a lot of the food on the table could also be made for Pesach without compromising on the taste. That’s also important.

I really like they have so many good Pesach recipes, do some exploring. I have a spreadsheet from year to year with recipes that worked out well or froze well. Even if you are not that type of person, you may want to try this because it helps with being organized and not stressed about the food as much.

A few other things that I wrote down.

If your not married yet, going home to family can be really challenging. I’m not going to speak about that struggle so much but it’s something to acknowledge and be sensitive about.

If your married without kids that also brings up its own set of challenges.

I am going to be talking about my situation, married with kids.

Kids are off their regular schedule. Their not sleeping enough, not eating the way they usually eat, they’re in a different place than they’re used to and they’re not acting themselves. Plus, you are going through your own stuff so your managing their dysregulation and your own, and it’s really hard.

Going back to the things you can and can’t control, there’s only so much you could control. They will be going to sleep later and eating off schedule. If you can control it, I would say work really hard to control it. If you have food that they like and makes them feel good, that’s an important part of planning for Pesach.

Of course, we also have Chol hamoed. The expectations of spending money and making sure the kids are entertained.

I have not mastered this yet; it is really challenging.  You don’t have to take the kids to 6 flags every day and every Yom Tov. Although you may be better off taking them to 6 flags instead of them sitting around and telling you their bored. There’s a balance of keeping your kids entertained all day which requires planning and being realistic that kids will complain that they’re bored at some point and that’s not necessarily on you, kids could learn to deal with boredom.

I don’t know what works for you, it’s personal to each family. But it’s worth giving thought to what works best for your family and for your kid’s ages. I have a 9,6-, and 3-year-old now and we need things that are different from when I had a 4 and 1-year-old. In retrospect, I could have just taken them to a park instead of the aquarium, but you live and learn. Again, this is so individual, but it’s so important to give it some thought.

We also can’t forget about the whole eating disorder history that so many people struggle with. Hearing people talk about their diets, their weight, your weight, and commenting on your food.

I know as a dietitian this is super highlighted for me because people ask me questions a lot. Why do you eat that? Do you eat this? Is this healthy? What do you think about this? How should I feed my kids? I often find myself saying I’m actually not working right now. Maybe that’s rude but I find it really challenging. Sometimes I don’t want to talk about it. That’s a boundary that I may or may not put into place. Depending on how strongly I feel about it or how much I want to talk about it. Some people do like talking about their work and I do as well but not always! Sometimes I just don’t want to have to think about it.

Let’s say you’re not a dietitian and you haven’t put up a boundary around people saying things about your food or weight and you’re not ready to do that or you don’t want to do that, it’s really tricky.

I would say you have to have some sort of plan around this. Do you need to change the subject tactfully? Do you need to go into your room and be by yourself for 5 minutes? Or do you need to eat in a way that makes you feel safe around other people over Pesach and remembering that it’s only a few days and you’ll get back to practicing your intuitive eating steps once you leave that environment? I don’t know the answer for you because I don’t know you. But I do think it’s something you might want to think about and either discuss with your dietitian, or therapist or think about it for yourself.

On one hand, if you don’t feel safe around a certain food you don’t have to use this time to challenge yourself. For others this is a great time to challenge yourself. You feel strong and you feel like everyone is eating salad and you really want matza pizza, go for it. If you don’t feel like you could deal with criticism, you don’t have to.

There’s so much nuance and flexibility around coping with your disordered eating or eating disorder journey. Pesach might not be the time to challenge yourself so really take that into consideration.

And of course, the self-care piece-is there even me-time?

I know the first Pesach I made, it was so challenging. I really encourage you to get a manicure or a massage. Or if that’s not your thing go out to eat with a friend for lunch. Or go for a walk and get some exercise. Make sure you don’t skip your therapy session this week of all weeks. Whatever your self-care is, do 1-2 things a day so that you don’t get swallowed up by everything you have to do.

At the end of the day, no one will starve. You might make one less side dish, but it’s okay because you’re going to come to the meals happy. This is something I really can’t stress enough.

Stay tuned if I do get to interview my friend. I hope to put it out over Chol hamoed if that would be helpful for you.

I would really like to hear about your Pesach stuff. What’s stressing you out, what’s going well, what’s worked for you, what’s been hard for you. If you want to share tips that have been helpful for you over Pesach or in general in your intuitive eating journey, You can reach out to me via Instagram or email me at [email protected].

I hope you have a beautiful Pesach where you are able to get rid of that inner sense of chometz and you are able to have your own personal redemption.


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-Gila Glassberg, MS, RDN, CDN, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

If you are ready to make peace with food and never say diet again, check out my website and apply for a free 20 minute clarity call. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Gila Glassberg, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, holding an inclusive variety of foods

Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. As a teenager, she was faced with constant diet talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food. She struggled with disordered eating. This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a non-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.

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